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Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Gene therapies and other new treatments that have the potential to cure debilitating diseases could also end up widening the gap between the rich and the poor, former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb writes for CNBC.

The bottom line: That's because the expected price tag for some of these new medicines are expected to be in the millions. Insurers — which are used to pay for treatment over time — are struggling to figure out how to pay this kind of sum all at once.

  • The problem is especially acute within Medicaid, which is constrained by state budgets.

One solution is to mimic Louisiana's "Netflix model" for hepatitis C treatment, in which the state pays the drugmaker a fixed annual fee for an unlimited amount of hepatitis C medication for 5 years.

  • This kind of model, Gottlieb writes, is a win-win: Drugmakers can offer states better pricing because of the multiyear commitment, while states get to smooth out the cost of making the treatment available to a whole population.
  • "We need to make sure that access to a curative drug doesn't become a yardstick by which poverty is eventually measured," he writes.

Go deeper: A look at Scott Gottlieb's legacy as FDA head

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Technology

From Malcolm X to "Free Britney," new media shapes the justice system

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

True crime documentaries, podcasts and social media campaigns are bringing new attention to real-world legal proceedings — and are often affecting the outcome.

Why it matters: New media platforms can instantly put a national spotlight on cases that have long been forgotten or buried under red tape.

Updated 5 hours ago - Health

The next big bottleneck in the global vaccination effort

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

The world still needs more coronavirus vaccines, but an additional bottleneck has emerged in many low-income countries: They need help getting shots in arms.

Why it matters: Increasing vaccination rates across the world is both a humanitarian necessity and the best way to prevent dangerous new variants from emerging, but it increasingly requires complex problem-solving.

Updated 5 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 Omicron variant cases identified in Europe, U.K.

People wearing masks walk in London on Nov. 25. Photo: Li Ying/Xinhua via Getty Images

Health officials in the United Kingdom, Italy and Germany announced on Saturday that they've detected the first known cases of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The discoveries come as the world scrambles to respond to concerns over the new variant, discovered in South Africa earlier this week.